Andiamo! Abandon the Internet, Amico, and Escape to Italy…

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Andiamo, Super Mario! Avanti!

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Andiamo! Go, go! I’m like Super Mario in the above sketch – on the move and all amped up to take on some colourful adventures. I’m also, like Mario, a two-dimensional fake Italian. The nice thing is that I now get the chance to make myself a better fake Italian by spending some time in Italy.

So, yes, it’s a me, Super-Giacomo, and I’m a-going! Io vado in Italia, to put into practice what I’ve been learning on Duolingo, to see friends, to soak up some culture, to experience some sunshine, to eat the best pasta and to make an ass of myself at kids’ summer camps. I did this last year, and it was such a blast I’m that going back for more. I am now all psyched for the whole experience and can’t wait to have another crack at the “I’m an educational entertainer/entertaining educator, kids! Now let’s all pretend to be bananas!” craic.

First though, I’ve got to do some packing and leave behind an ‘out of office’ note. While I’m on the road I won’t be wired up to the interwebs (the laptop gets left behind) so don’t expect much in the way of online noise from me for six weeks.  That means no Den of Geek columns, short stories or doodles on my sketch blog for a bit but a break is good. What’s more, I’m making the resolution to return creatively re-invigorated and full of fresh energy to kick out some new jams. I can guarantee that I’ll be getting up to creative trouble and forming fresh ideas while I’m flouncing about and pretending I’m in a Fellini film – doodling, scribbling in notebooks, doing the Kerouac thing and suchlike. Then when I return, I’ll unleash some things on y’all and it will be ultra-enthusiastic, dramatic and expressive because I’ll have spent six weeks around Italian people. Hey, I’m a fake Italian whose desperate to fit in. When in Rome… *frantic gesturing*

On with the adventures then and I will now begone from the internet and finish packing my bags. Until July then, mi amici, ciao! Vado! Andiamo!

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Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Third One, Not a Charm’…

It’s Saturday morning, so it’s the perfect time for a slightly silly sci-fi fantasy. I will, thus, give you a slightly silly sci-fi fantasy and upload my May Pictonaut challenge effort onto the internet. To recap for those unfamiliar with the format, every month the admirable Imagino-Admiral John Steele picks a picture and urges people to write a short story inspired by it. Participants then take up the challenge, weave a yarn and exhibit them in their own private section of cyberspace. I do this every month and it’s a nice creative exercise, albeit one I won’t be exercising for a while while I go off travelling and unplug from this laptop for a while. (That blogpost is coming tomorrow, so watch this cyberspace-space for further details.)

For May 2014’s Pictonaut image, John picked the following photograph (credit unavailable and unknown, unfortunately) of a woman doing some hardcore stretching atop a mountain…

Epic stretching…

It’s a very evocative, beautiful image and, most of all, it made me want to do yoga because I miss doing yoga as a proper discipline. It was a great opportunity to take some yogic spirit to writing but that got a bit lost as all the spiritual ideas somehow got sifted out in the cerebral sieve. A clunky lump stuck in place and that ended up being a half-written story about a very weak and woolly character who runs away from all her domestic heartbreaks and liberal middle class anxieties to a mountain resort (“What the hell is this you’re writing?” I asked myself). There was a fantastical twist though to save me from banality that just ain’t me as our protagonist finds that the resort’s yoga instructor is actually an underage supersoldier war child in the Hanna vein who is undercover and on a mission to assassinate a Russian secret agent.

It was beyond tolerable levels of terrible, so I swiftly discarded it, re-aligned with some yoga stretches and asked myself what I really wanted to write right now. The answer: “Hey, I want to have fun and space is fun so, by the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, I’m gonna go full-frontal sci-fi on this, sister…

So I did, and the result is an out-there yarn I’ve quickly blasted out called Third One, Not a Charm. It’s silly and off-the-cuff but way more fun than my first idea and way more ‘me’ in terms of style and themes. If the mood takes you, feel free to take a read of my Pictonaut challenge effort for May 2014 and, of course, please consider writing your own before the month is out. As for myself, the lesson I’ve learned is that life is better if you meditate a bit, align some yogic spirit and write the things you love the most…

Travelling Back Through Time to the Temple of Doom…

“Okey dokey, Dr. Jones! Hold on to your potatoes!” And your hat. Oh, and your heart as well. You wouldn’t like it if someone else got a hold of it…

Let’s roll, ideally in a runaway mine cart. 30 years ago this week, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom hit movie theatres. To commemorate this milestone anniversary, Paul Bullock – the man behind the brilliant From Director Steven Spielberg archive website – is hosting Temple of Doom week. He put out a call for thoughts on the movie and, because I love it and got caught up in sweet nostalgia just recalling the second Indy film, I duly responded with an enthusiastic email.

Paul has, very kindly, taken those transcribed thoughts and uploaded them on to the blog as part of the celebration. You can read my reflections by heading over to the site and I hope people enjoy them or, perhaps, are moved to re-appraise Temple of Doom. I’m very happy to have been able to make a small contribution to an excellent blog that I recommend to all cinema aficionados. Paul’s devotion is amazing and I’m in awe of the hard-work he continues to put into building and curating his free online archive of all-things Spielberg-related.

Roll on, and here’s to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Oh, and here’s also to Dr Jones holding on to his potato…

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"Okey dokey Dr. Jones! Hold on to your potatoes!"

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Barbarians Work (and Kill) on Bank Holidays…

Yesterday it was a bank holiday, but I don’t think we should have holidays for banks. Really, banks are among the most awful institutions ever conceived. I’m thinking about banks and feeling nauseous. Ick. Oh, I’d love to to live in a world bereft of such things alongside people and creatures who do not care for economic systems and suchlike. Barbarians who inhabit fantastical realms only visitable within the imagination care not for banks. Barbarians of said fantastical realms do not take bank holidays either. Yeah, let’s trip back to yesterday and head over to those realms…

Yesterday The Working Barbarian was working (what bank holiday?) for a new chapter surfaced in cyberspace. The collaborative crowd-sourced saga continues apace and it fell up on me to take the narrative on after the climax of our hero Jala’s boss battle with the dread Magebane. Readers voted on the story’s direction and decided that Jala should kill the villain, so I have duly killed her. You can read that in the new instalment – chapter the two-and-twentieth which is titled Death Drives. After reading you then get to cast your vote and choose where we go from here. I encourage you to do so, and you can always go back through the various chapters or check the Recap-O-Rama I wrote if you need to get up to speed with the unfolding story and surrounding mythos we’ve built up.

I will leave you with the power metal-heavy Working Barbarian Workout Mixtape I used as mood music for writing the fresh episode. Savage sounds for scripting slaughter can be found in the playlist. It might make excellent motivational music for your next visit to the bank…